The Embattled Wilderness
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Although writing is a very personal undertaking, no historian could begin setting facts and ideas to paper without the assistance of many other individuals. As I recall their names and contributions, I am reminded of an observation made by Mary Vocelka, former director of the Yosemite National Park Research Library. "Why is it," Mary once asked me, "that most writers never mention their husbands or wives until the very last?" A good question, I responded, and a fault that I promised not to repeat. Indeed, no one has meant more to me than my wife, Christine. I would not have started this book, let alone have finished it, without her encouragement and support. Writing may be a cloistered and lonely occupation, but again, thanks to Christine, I was never really alone.

The same, however, must also be said of Mary Vocelka. I do not know anyone, other than my wife, who was more committed, both personally and professionally, to the success of this book. From the beginning of my research in the summer of 1980 through the completion of the final drafts of the manuscript, Mary worked tirelessly to ensure that I saw everything of importance in Yosemite's archives. That meant, on Mary's part, hours and hours of rummaging through stored files; xeroxing countless pages of reports and correspondence; locating photographs, advertisements, and classic ephemera; and, long after I had returned home, discovering and forwarding me even more information on those issues I had brought to her special attention. Just before I completed this book, in the summer of 1988, Mary resigned from the Yosemite Research Library, noting, in her words, that it was time to move on. I can say only that her absence is a big, big loss to every serious scholar of the national parks. Her knowledge of her collection was deep and insightful, and she shared her discoveries with unbridled enthusiasm and dedication. Believe me, Mary will be missed.

Mary, I would further suggest, symbolizes the dedication and professionalism of archivists everywhere. Special thanks are also due Renee M. Jaussaud, with the Scientific, Economic, and Natural Resources Branch, the National Archives, for guiding me through the complexities and inconsistencies of Record Group 79, the files of the National Park Service. Renee is another of those unsung heroes, cutting days, if not weeks, from a researcher's time at the National Archives simply by knowing its collections inside and out. I am also grateful to the staff of the Bancroft Library of the University of California at Berkeley, and especially to Walter Brem, for much advice and assistance I received while examining the Sierra Club Papers. Finally, on the archival side of the ledger, I thank Dr. David Wake, director of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology of the University of California at Berkeley, and Dr. Marvalee Wake, chairman of the Department of Zoology, for permission to examine all of the museum's files, including the papers and correspondence of Joseph Grinnell. David and Marvalee, I might add, allowed me access to the museum on weekends and after normal business hours. I deeply appreciate their confidence and trust, and underscore again how fortunate I have been to benefit from the time and assistance of such dedicated people.

Financial support, like archival assistance, has also proven crucial to the realization of this book. Fifteen years ago, Resources for the Future in Washington, D.C., extended me a fellowship to write my doctoral dissertation, which led to my first history of the national parks. In 1985 Resources for the Future awarded me a Small Grant to complete this book as well. The title Small Grant was perhaps a misnomer, at least from my perspective, since the amount was sufficient to allow me a full year for research and writing. In either case, I am honored that this book, like my first, won the support of RFF, indeed that I was so well treated and encouraged as a member of RFF's extended research family. A Herbert E. Kahler Fellowship from the Eastern National Park and Monument Association also speeded the book's completion. Both Resources for the Future and the Eastern National Park and Monument Association can be proud of their contributions to historical research. In my own case, I know this book would not have appeared in time for the Yosemite Centennial had it not been for their willingness to back scholars by providing financial assistance.

I have also benefited, along the way, from the assistance of many other institutions and individuals. The National Park Foundation agreed to administer my grant from RFF without taking any overhead. Indirectly, a film project under the auspices of the Burlington Northern Foundation further contributed financial assistance to locate and reproduce important photographs. Similarly, Leonard McKenzie, chief park interpreter in Yosemite National Park, generously agreed to give me lodging in the Ranger Club dormitory, allowing me to realize substantial savings while concluding my archival investigations in the Yosemite Research Library.

Linda Eade, Mary Vocelka's successor in the library, came to my aid repeatedly as I tried to fill in my data and obtain elusive photographs. Likewise, I have benefited from the assistance of other Park Service personnel, including Stephen Botti, Vicki Lawson, Dean Shenk, Michael Webb, Mallory Smith, Marla LaCass, Sue Beatty, Lisa Dapprich, Don Fox, Eileen Berrey, Fermin Salas, Roger McGehee, Jeff Samco, Bruce Fincham, Jeff Keay, David Forgang, Barbara Beroza, Robert Woolard, and the late Richard Riegelhuth, former chief of resources management. Two former superintendents, Robert Binnewies and John M. Morehead, also facilitated special requests for research information.

I respect the opinions of these and other people; I stress, however, that the interpretations in this book are strictly my own. I did, beginning in 1980, work seasonally in Yosemite Valley through 1983, giving walks, campfire lectures, and seminars as a Park Service naturalist. My knowledge of park history, I admit, was sometimes uncomfortable for management personnel, who expected history to vindicate their actions rather than suggest a possible need for more critical review. Nevertheless, I respect the Park Service for allowing me to bring real scholarship to the public, for giving me the opportunity to educate from within. As I hope this book will show, that opportunity itself is in the highest traditions of Yosemite.

Meanwhile, present friends and former colleagues in university circles, in truth people too numerous to mention all by name, will agree that scholarship cannot flourish without freedom of expression. For sticking by me through the years, I thank especially Frank Freidel, Carlos Schwantes, Harold Kirker, Roderick Nash, Richard Oglesby, Lisa Mighetto, Arthur Martinson, Michael Frome, Mott Greene, William Goetzmann, Caroline Bynum, Tom Dunlap, Susan Schrepfer, Richard Bartlett, W. Turrentine Jackson, Donald Pisani, Carl Bajema, Michael Allen, Robert Burke, Frank Conlon, Lewis Saum, Grant Sharpe, Wilbur Jacobs, Richard Orsi, and Barry Schuyler. All extended me that most important aid—faith in one's self, even in the face of reversal and adversity. Again, that always lonely enterprise—research and writing—has been made all the more bearable by friends such as these.

And just when you think your book is finished, you find, to your dismay, that you have overlooked an important illustration. So it is back to your sources for a final rush order. Michael Dixon and Brian Grogan in Yosemite; Karen DePonceau Flint at the Rockwell Museum in Corning, New York; Thomas A. DuRant of the National Park Service, Office of Library and Archival Services, Springfield, Virginia; Barbara Stein, the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, Berkeley, California; Joyce Connolly, the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, Brookline, Massachusetts; and Joanne Avant, with the Haggin Museum, Stockton, California, all came gladly to my assistance that one last time.

My family, as well, understood my deadlines and immersion in this project and therefore cheerfully endured my habit of staring off into space, mentally lost on some fogbound paragraph or chapter that just wouldn't come together. My mother, although dying of cancer, was no less insistent that I stick with my writing. Naturally I found that impossible, although after her death I did return to the book with a retrospective sense of purpose. It was thirty years ago, in early August 1959, that she took my brother and me to Yosemite Valley, never dreaming that somewhere between the Donald Duck comic books and our daily refrain of "But Mom, when do we get to Disneyland?" the glory of Yosemite was indeed shining through. Unlike her sons, she never went back to Yosemite Valley. We trust, however, that the Yosemite she sees now is even greater and more beautiful than the one we mortals know.


Yosemite: The Embattled Wilderness
©1990, University of Nebraska Press
runte2/ack.htm — 17-Mar-2004